Monday, 2 November 2009

Opinion or Ignorance

This has been covered by several blogs already but it was something I felt was pertinent to me and worth comment. There is on a post on Misha Safranski's blog concerning this topic: Should Transsexual People Teach in Public Schools? The poster is very much against this but does not seem to have documented any specific reasons except that she feels that exposing children to these issues isn't a good idea.

There is plenty of comments against this post (including one from me) and alot of to-ing and fro-ing of opinion as well as name-calling and general questioning of research, basis, reasons, etc. In short it has all the makings of a raging debate which achieves very little. I suspect that this is the blogger's aim on the whole.

What is concerning is that there are many people who would hold such discriminatory views. The reasons for such views essentially boil down to prejudice (either for some personal reason or because of upbringing, political or, most likely, religious beliefs*) or pure ignorance, though the latter usually has to be coupled with a degree of the former.

The term 'ignorant' is usually seen as a derogatory term and I believe in the comments the blogger's response was that she had read more about it and still held her view. I would maintain that reading about something can often still leave you as ignorant as you were before, even if you are reading unbiased literature.

In some ways I wish there was a magical way to make people like this experience what it is like to be trans, even if it is just for one day, so they can realise what it is like to be so unhappy with your own gender and everything that entails such as outward appearance, body, feelings, emotions, and your whole identity. I think only then would you have the right to give an opinion.

One very common misconception, which is mentioned or implied repeatedly on the comments on this post, is that transsexual people have a choice, that it's a lifestyle thing (the same opinion is applied to anyone who is homosexual). There is no choice. You are who and what you are are, no matter how much you try to fight it or attempt to conform to some ideal set by culture, or church or ignorant people. Trans people can spend a long time in denial before realising their true self and some may even die (either naturally or much worse, by suicide) without being able to transition.

A related misconception is that transness can be 'cured'. If you take hormones to become the gender you feel you are, the opposite hormones will make you 'normal' again. It simply doesn't work like that. Taking hormones will, hopefully, help your body change such that you feel happier with it, but no pill will make you a man or a woman, that is something that is built into your idea of self. And no, that doesn't make it a mental illness either with some possible treatment. Many trans people have gone through all sorts of things in search of a 'cure' and there simply isn't one, apart from being who and what you feel in you heart/soul/mind you are. That's the only way to be truly comfortable and happy.


Jane Maybe said...

you are so right we dont have a choice ,it really irratates me when people say i do !
I Think it will be a while yet before trans issues will be taught in schools.It has taken years for gay & lesbians to be understood by schools

GirlWhoShould said...

As someone who'd be dismissed as a ACLU worshiping type, the thing which would matter to me above all is are they a good teacher? Its a variation on the old talking about homosexuality will turn you gay argument.
I do agree like a lot of prejudices, you wish they could experienced how it felt.
Lucy x

MgS said...

I like to respond to the "is it a choice" BS with the following:

I didn't choose to be born this way, but I did choose to deal with it constructively.

It tends to shut down the pray/wish it away crowd pretty quickly.